Social Institutions

Education and Religion
By Dane Olofson

Early colonial schools were mainly established by the churches as a way to teach children to read, ensuring their ability to read the passages of the Bible. As the close of the 17th Century approached, the New England Primer was developed, allowing the students to learn their basic school skills as well as the Bible at the same time. Additional texts were created to change with time, but they all fell on the basis that religion was integral to the development of the youth and should be part of a daily school curriculum.

The 20th Century brings about a change in the philosophy of religion in the school. Churches were turning the control of their schools over to state systems. The formation of the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, brought about radical reform to the educational system. A teacher in Tennessee was paid by the ACLU to teach evolution in the school, unlawful in the state. Even though the ACLU lost the case, the changed that resulted brought about the mandate that evolution, not creation, shall be taught in all science classes.


The Scopes Monkey Trial took place in the small town of Dayton, Tennessee in 1925. Jon Scopes, a high school biology teacher had been paid to teach against the Butler Act, and taught his class the theory of evolution. Scopes had been contacted by members of the ACLU, who promised to defend any teacher who defied the Butler Act, asking him to follow the state guidelines requiring a teacher to teach from the text provided. Scopes even went as far as asking students to testify against him as well as trying to incriminate himself. Following an eight day trial, the jury only needed nine minutes to find Scopes guilty and fined $100 as set forth in the Butler Act. This trial led to numerous states enacting anti evolution statutes, with Mississippi and Arkansas creating laws.

McLean vs. the Arkansas Board of Education was another trial that took place on the teaching of evolution in the school systems. In 1981, a lawsuit was filed by various parents, religious groups and organizations, biologists, and others who argued that the Arkansas state law known as the Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act (Act 590), which mandated the teaching of "creation science" in Arkansas public schools, was unconstitutional because it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Judge William Overton's ruling handed down on January 5, 1982, concluded that "creation-science" as defined in Arkansas Act 590 "is simply not science". The judgment defined the essential characteristics of science as being:
1. It is guided by natural law;
2. It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
3. It is testable against the empirical world;
4. Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word; and
5. It is falsifiable.
The judge concluded that "the Act was passed with the specific purpose by the General Assembly of advancing religion," and that it violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. This ruling only applied to schools in Arkansas’s Eastern School District however.

That would change in 1987 however, when the U.S Supreme Court would hear a case from Louisiana, Edwards v. Aguillard, setting precedent from that point forward. On June 19, 1987 the Supreme Court, in a seven to two majority opinion written by Justice William J. Brennan, ruled that the Act constituted an unconstitutional infringement on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, based on the three-pronged Lemon test, which is:
1. The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; and
3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" of the government and religion.

“Edwards v. Aguillard” 3-4-2011. Web Source
“Science, Religion, Politics,
Law, and Education.” Tim Berra. 3-4-2011. Web Source.

Matt Edwards
Intro to Sociology
Social Institutions


Each society has its own social institutions. These are not buildings or places, but structures of relationship, obligation, role and function. These are social concepts and practices, but also involve cognitive structures. Members of a society have a similar mental concept of right and wrong, order and relationships, and patterns of good (positive values). Those who do not honor these concepts are "criminals," or at least antisocial.
Linguist Noam Chomsky provides a good model for cognitive culture. He presents a coherent theory of how children create language by organizing the early language experiences around them by using a native analytical "faculty" in the human psyche. The same pattern applies to culture. Let's look at some of the social institutions that insiders learn through their socialization experiences, which affect insider identity.
Political: Every society has an organizational principle, with authority figures, with defined roles and obligations. There are written or oral laws. Some societies are tightly knit, while others are very loosely organized. The Luo people, for instance, traditionally had no chiefs, the society being organized around families.
Economic: This involves the production of goods and the organization of labor, the provision of care and similar factors, not just money, buying and selling. Every society has systems of provision or procurement. Economic and political institutions are related.
Religious: This entails beliefs about the world, universal order and good, spiritual beings and powers, as well as rituals and ceremonies. For many peoples, religion is not separated into a separate sphere of life but is part of the fabric of society, making "conversion" difficult, because of the "religious" identity of the society. Concepts of loyalty, identity, faithfulness and personhood are in this category. Political and religious institutions are often related. This may involve "religious" ceremonies of cultural identity.
Linguistic: Language usages may involve role and function, affecting social identity or status, so can be considered "institutions." There are often subtle but significant meanings in the languages used or choice of words used in certain situations or topics.
Educational: Even in "primitive" societies, there are highly developed methods of conveying knowledge and values. These methods will affect reception of new ideas. The effective communicator learns and uses the insider formats and channels.
Aesthetic (Art and Architecture): The artistic self-expressions of a people become part of their cultural identity. These are also communication media. Think of "gothic architecture," "Dixieland Jazz," "Shakespeare," "Magnum," "Snow White."
These significant factors in a society's identity are important for understanding the society and integration into the society. An outsider normally has to become aware of these social institutions to gain acceptance and credibility in the host society.
A social institution is a complex, integrated set of social norms organized around the preservation of a basic societal value. Obviously, the sociologist does not define institutions in the same way as does the person on the street. Lay persons are likely to use the term "institution" very loosely, for churches, hospitals, jails, and many other things as institutions.
Sociologists often reserve the term "institution" to describe normative systems that operate in five basic areas of life, which may be designated as the primary institutions. (1) In determining Kinship; (2) in providing for the legitimate use of power; (3) in regulating the distribution of goods and services; (4) in transmitting knowledge from one generation to the next; and (5) in regulating our relation to the supernatural. In shorthand form, or as concepts, these five basic institutions are called the family, government, economy, education and religion.

Families and Intimate Relationships
By Holly Koehn

What is a family? It is defined as relationships in which people live together with the commitment, from an economic unit and care for any young, and consider their identity to be significantly attached to the group. In a family there is structure and characteristics. Kinship is the social network or people based on a common ancestry, marriage, or adoption. A person can be from a family of orientation, born into, or family of procreation, having or adopting. Family can also be extend, relative other than the child and parent. When it is just the child and parent(s) is considered a nuclear family.

There are several kinds of marriages and patterns that come along with them. There is monogamy, two partners; polygamy, person of one sex married to two or more of the opposite sex; polygyny, one man with two or more women; and polyandry, one woman with two or more men. When marriage occurs so do patterns of descent, inheritance, power, authority, and residential. These contain inheriting items from families such as knowing if the household is ran from a man figure or women figure or if both partners share the power, and also having the family live in the same household usual as the husband’s family. These types of patterns establish a sense of stability for the family.


Within families there are variations and different roles for the members. Most of the time the father/husband takes on the role of bringing home the money to support the family, making the important decisions, and being the head of household, the leader. The mother/wife takes care of the household, children, and emotional struggles among the family. It is important that children are taught sexual regulations, socialization, economic and psychological support, and be aware of one social status.
Cohabitation, domestic partnership, and marriage are the stages of developing intimate relationships and families. Men and women show love differently whether it’s towards the spouse, children or other family members. Sometimes people choose a partner that is different from them while others choose a partner that has the same traits. In some cases both of the partners work out side of the home and in other cases the women may be a stay at home mom. Somehow the partners have to work out the best situation to take care of the labor, home, and children.

In deciding to have children many issues arise. In today’s society people can control having children by birth control. Some people cannot have children and this is when adoption comes in. Also adoption can happen within a remarriage and children from another marriage are adopted. Teen pregnancy is a large issue when talking about children. Teens for several reasons have children. They are not educated about sex, don’t use contraceptives, or sometimes teens believe that a child will give them power to act like an adult.

After children are born they are now divided into a new category. Single parent and two parent households, each have negative and positive effect depending on every situation. Some people decided to never have children or to not be married without a commitment from another to have a child. People become who they are by who they were around and there surrounding when growing up.
With a family there are transitions and problems.

Every person has a tradition from when they were an infant to when they are in their adulthood. When these traditions change it causes problems. Sometimes in families there can be violence and even when people turn to elderly they cannot be treated right as well. Divorce is very hard on anybody whether it’s the child, the person getting the divorce of other family. It’s not the tradition and can cause many issues especially if there is a remarriage. Sometimes this can be better for the children and they can learn to understand why their life is the way it is. Blended families are hard but family life should be based on what’s best for everyone involved.

Family and Intimate Relationships
Sociology In Our Times By Diana Kendal

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